Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Distorted news or planted news are terms in journalism for two deviated aspects of the wider "news media" wherein media outlets deliberately present false data, evidence, or sources as factual, in contradiction to the ethical practices in professional journalism. It applies to any media organization wherin either corporate or government propaganda masquerade as genuine news reports produced by media organizations.
The distortion of fact does not violate any such code of ethics in the public relations industry (there is none), and the corrolary term of that trade is "news management," where the business of the public relations office is to use various means control what is reported in the news media. The similar term fake news commonly refers to news satire, but also may include aspects of the infotainment trade, including but not limited to infomercials, televangelism disguised as news reports, etc.
Fake, planted or distorted news can be invented or manipulated with a variety of purposes, among which the following can be pinpointed :
- political or ideological reasons
- partisan agenda
- religious motivation
- commercial motivation
- personal benefits to the journalist (corruption)
- in wartime, national security reasons (usually accompanied by information censorship)
- as a technique used to fulfill the absence of ideas or work by an individual journalist (see journalistic fraud)
- as a means of producing humoristic or satirical news.
Governmental use of prepackaged news
In the United States, according to a report by The New York Times' David Barstow, the George W. Bush Administration has been increasingly criticized for the aggressive use of a tool typical of public relations: previously prepared, ready-to-serve news that big corporations regularly distribute to TV stations in order to sell products or services. What is referred to by the report as propaganda is usually distributed through the use of a Video news release (or VNR). The New York Times editorial (March 16, 2005) entitled "And now, the counterfeit news" affirms that at least 20 U.S. federal agencies, like the Department of Defense and the U.S. Census Bureau, produced and distributed hundreds of TV news reports since 2001 that were aired as if they were produced by the media. The same report says that this practice was also utilized by the Clinton Administration.
False corporate news presented as media news reports
Fake news can also be the object of journalistic fraud, when the reporter or journalist individually invent or distort a story fabricating false facts, evidences or data. In early May 2003, for example, New York Times reporter Jayson Blair resigned after being confronted with evidence of fabricating quotes and details in at least 36 articles, leading to the subsequent resignation of editors Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd. As a result of the scandal, in September, 2003, the newspaper created a new post, the Standards Editor, appointing Allan M. Siegal to the post. In the words of new executive editor, Bill Keller, Siegal would serve as ‘‘the main internal sounding board for staff members who have doubts or complaints about the paper’s content, whether already published or in the works’’. On his defense, Blair argues in his website that he had a manic-depressive mental disorder called bipolar disorder at the time he produced the journalistic offenses.
Satirical fake news
Main article: News management
"News management" is a term in the public relations business for the process by which individuals and organizations (especially political parties) control information and their interactions with the news media to achieve some strategic objective.
- Announcements reaction and publicity
- New York Times editorial ("And now, the counterfeit news") - March 16, 2005, by David Barstow and Robin Stein.
- And now, the counterfeit news – NYT Editorial - March 16, 2005.
- Journalists challenge license of Fox TV in Tampa on evidence of false and distorted news reports - from Mindfully.org. Journalists Jane Akre and Steve Wilson vs. WTVT Fox-13 in Tampa. Jan 3, 2005.
- Florida station facing consequences for not airing complete BGH story - from NewFarm.org.
- Military news programs secure a public outlet - published on March 9, 2005, by the St. Petersburg Times. Tampa Bay Area Government access channels Air Defense Department programming that also goes to military bases and features anchors in uniform.
- The Boston Globe – Patricia Smith’s virtual reality - article by TransparencyNow.com.
- Drug Control Office faulted for issuing fake news tapes - published on Jan 7, 2005, by The Washington Post, written by Ceci Connolly.
- How to write distorted news – NY Times vs. Washington Post - from Rasmusen Weblog. July 22, 2004.
- Fake news, fake reporter - by Eric Boehlert (Salon.com). Feb. 10, 2005.
- Wanted : 250,000 Americans to fight fake news and government propaganda - from the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of PRWatch.org.
Media watching organizations
- FAIR.org - Fairness and accuracy in reporting
- MediaWatch.com - 20 years of activism
- Transparency Now : Media criticism and news ethics
- PR Watch.org - published by the Center for Media and Democracy
- MediaChannel.org affiliates - A thorough list of over 1,100 Internet communities around the world focused on media issues.
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